The Forgotten Final Day: Reliving the Most Dramatic Title Race in WSL History

There’s nothing like an exhilarating final day of the season title decider, is there? 

Fans endure an array of emotions as league positions shuffle throughout the day and the title race swings one way and then the other in the space of 90 agonising minutes. 

Everyone’s done the maths. We all know all the various outcomes, all the different formulas. Points, goal difference, goals scored. We know the ramifications down to the finest detail.

Manchester City v Liverpool FC - Premier League

People have half an eye on the scores elsewhere, and the guy sitting behind you thinks he’s Jeff Stelling as he gives everyone minute by minute updates of the results from around the grounds.

We all remember Sergio Aguero’s last minute winner for Manchester City against QPR to snatch the Premier League title from neighbours United is one of the greatest final days of all time, rivalled only by Arsenal’s goal at the death to beat Liverpool to the 1988/89 Division One crown.

However, there is one enthralling final day story that is often forgotten.

The conclusion to the 2014 Women’s Super League season.

Rachel s,Eniola Aluko

The title race boiled down to a frantic three-way final day affair, as Chelsea, Birmingham and Liverpool all vied to be crowned champions of England.

Chelsea went into the final day in the driving seat. They sat top of the league, two points ahead of Birmingham and three points ahead of Liverpool. It was simple; win at home against Manchester City, who had rested a number of key players ahead of the Continental Cup final later that week, and the title was theirs.

Both Chelsea and Birmingham seemed to epitomise the saying “always the bridesmaid, never the bride.”

Birmingham were runners up in both the WSL and Continental Cup in 2011 and 2012. However, they had claimed their first honour in the 2012 FA Cup final against Chelsea, who were yet to win a major trophy. They had been were eliminated at the semi-final stage of both domestic cup competitions in 2014, so the league was their last opportunity to finally get their hands on some silverware.

With Ji So-Yun and Eniola Aluko, Chelsea boasted one of the most exciting forward lines in the division, in addition to the steeliness of Katie Chapman in the middle.

Karen Carney

Birmingham went into the day as the plucky underdogs, despite possessing homegrown great Karen Carney.

Reigning champions Liverpool were lucky to be in contention at all, after gaining a fortuitous win over Birmingham in the closing weeks of the season. A spectacular effort straight from kick off from Fara s was allowed to stand despite the referee not blowing his whistle to signal the restarting of play.

The Reds had also scored a last minute equaliser against Arsenal the previous weekend to just about keep their title hopes alive.

The stage was set for a frantic day of action. And that’s just what we got.

Despite facing a somewhat depleted Manchester City XI, Chelsea found themselves 2-0 down at half-time. This left the door open for Birmingham to capitalise. However, they too had conceded two early goals at home to Notts County.

The hosts soon shook off the big game nerves, as Kirsty Linnet pulled one back. Birmingham were then awarded a penalty with two minutes left until the interval, but Carney saw her spot kick saved. They trailed 2-1 at the break.

Liverpool, meanwhile, were struggling to break down a dogged Bristol Academy side, and went in 0-0 at half-time. This meant, despite finding themselves 2-0 down, Chelsea were still clinging onto top spot.

But it was all change 10 minutes into the second half as Natasha Dowie gave Liverpool the lead against Bristol and the lead in the title race. 

Toni Duggan

Not keen on going down without a fight, Birmingham grabbed an equaliser through substitute Hannah Keryakoplis. The Blues just needed one goal and the title was theirs.

Back in Liverpool, the defending champions were keeping their side of the bargain, as Lucy Bronze and Fara s scored to assure the Reds of three points, in addition to boosting their goal difference. If results stayed the same, they would retain the WSL.

But by now Chelsea had begun to stage a fightback. Gilly Flaherty scored a header to make it 2-1, leaving Chelsea needing one goal in 20 minutes to secure their maiden title.

Birmingham were plugging away to find that all important winner, but Carly Telford was in inspired form in between the sticks for Notts County. The game finished 2-2, and with Liverpool’s victory assured, Birmingham’s title hopes were over.

It was all down to Chelsea now. They threw the kitchen sink at Man City, but the Sky Blues stood firm to somehow cling onto victory. Chelsea players were left in tears at the final whistle.

This meant that somehow, the title was Merseyside bound. Despite starting the day in third place, the top two sides had both slipped up and Liverpool retained the WSL – doing so with a superior goal difference of just two goals.

Don’t you just love football?


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